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Old 05-12-2014, 01:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default barking at other dogs

I have a 4 month old male gsd. I've attended puppy classes with him where he hung out with 5 other dogs every week, I have a beagle at home that he plays with, he plays with my girlfriends labrador and my neighbors Australian cattle dog on a regular basis. I took him to nature parks and shopping malls so he'd get used to seeing people and dogs. He doesn't bark at people, bikes, or cars, but they do get his attention and sometimes he stares them down. He hates when another dog gets close to him at nature parks. I'd say if the dog breaks my dogs 30 foot bubble then he'll start barking like a mad man.
Will this pass? Should I just get him around more dogs and hopefully it'll pass within a year or two?
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:54 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 05-12-2014, 06:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Things don't just pass. A year or two?! You're gonna wait for your dog to bark it's head off for a year or two?! Now that's some patience.

Get a trainer. German Shepherds are known for reactivity. Evaluate WHY the dog is reactive and then fix accordingly.
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:54 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by simba405 View Post
Things don't just pass. A year or two?! You're gonna wait for your dog to bark it's head off for a year or two?! Now that's some patience.

Get a trainer. German Shepherds are known for reactivity. Evaluate WHY the dog is reactive and then fix accordingly.
But there's nothing out of the ordinary wrong with him? I love working with him and have the patience as well. I'm taking one on one classes with a certified gsd trainer but a little moral reinforcement is always nice from fellow owners, because I feel like a worried father. I think the barking is a combination of initial fear followed by uncertainty/and wanting to play with the other dog, so it starts with a lot of barking followed by whining and barking if we get closer. I don't want him to play with every dog, he can hate them for all I care. I just don't want him to show it exceedingly. Will the trainer be able to help me with this? Because, I have very high doubts.

So..my question is. Is this behavior treatable with correct training and quantity of time? Or will this behavior stick with him forever even when given the appropriate training.

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Old 05-12-2014, 08:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yes it's correctable. Lots of GSD go through this at this age. Consistent training, redirection and obedience and most do fine.

But remember lots of GSD outgrow the desire to play with other dogs. But theu should be able to be around them without being stupid.


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Old 05-12-2014, 08:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes a trainer worth anything should be able to fix. Of course it depends on the source of reactivity. Some dogs are just so fearful that you can't really fix but only manage.

But if your dog isn't reacting to other things then I'd say he's a good dog that's just being a brat. The ultimate goal is to have your dog view other dogs like they do a tree or a light pole. Other dogs aren't fun but they also aren't threats. Reactivity is common. Find a trainer who is knowledgeable with Shepherds.
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I just went through this and have worked relentlessly and at 5.5 months, it has improved significantly. Basically, at four months old, their eyesight improves and they start realizing things outside of you and the immediate pack exist. Do a search in this forum for reactivity and LAT training and you will find tons of information.

Our dog gets better everyday at it. Start working your pup at a distance from those distractions and slowly work up to getting closer to other dogs keeping your dog focused on you. Always be aware of what your surroundings are and at first just calmly turn around and go the other way if another dog is headed your way. Don't let your dog get to the "end of the leash" in a full lunge to where he starts pulling. Look at him and when you see the head and ears perk up, move away or give the "come" or "leave it" command. What has worked for us recently as we have gotten closer is I just say in a calm voice "oh look at that! A puppy! Leave it" and I just keep moving...no stopping and chatting or sniffing the other dog. As soon as you get past the other dog with no reaction, praise and treat like crazy. If trained correctly, the dog will look at you for a response when you say "look at that".

We found a park with very wide trails and I can see another dog way ahead and there is plenty of room to pass other dogs without getting too close and to give the leave it and look at me command. (You need both of those to commands to be solid before doing this)Our next step is find a more narrow walking path, then Petsmart, then a dog cafe...but that may be months away. Don't push your dog too quickly and definitely no Petsmart right now.

The idea is here is telling the dog, "yeah it's a dog (or a bike, or skateboard or whatever), but were going to keep moving. No big deal!"

So... Teach LAT (look at that), leave it, and always work below threshold slowly getting closer as dog is comfortable and not barking! I hope that helps! I am no expert, but I have seen drastic improvement over the lasts 6 weeks doing these steps! Good luck
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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He is acting exactly as how he has been trained to thus far, that every dog = a potential playmate and he must do whatever he can to get to them and play. If you don't want him to play with every dog he comes across and you want his focus on you and to be obedient, you need to up the handler engagement and obedience and lessen the time he has off leash with other dogs. Don't stop socializing of course, but be smarter about it. Right now other dogs are more fun and interesting to him than you are. When you have focus you have control.
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